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Sunday 21 January 2018

Rate of care-home aid approvals to fall

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

The number of people who will qualify for nursing home financial subsidies under the Fair Deal scheme is set to fall, it was confirmed yesterday.

Health Minister James Reilly will announce in the Dail today that the scheme, which has been suspended for new applicants since the middle of last month, is set to resume.

The HSE put a freeze on new approvals because its €1bn bud-get was only enough to cover those already in nursing homes.

About 4,500 people have outstanding applications for the scheme. But although more funding is to be provided this year, the rate at which approvals are given is set to fall.

He indicated that the assessment of applicants would become more stringent and said this would automatically mean that demand would not be as high as previously. He said he had concerns about the assessment tool and and there was no "uniformity of approach".

"The way this scheme was planned and funded, it was going to run into trouble. There was only €6m allocated this year and that was not remotely enough," Dr Reilly said.

The minister recently discovered that the HSE had allocated €100m from its €1bn nursing home budget for medicines and therapies.

"We have not got to the root of why this money was taken out and who took it," he said.

He said the projections of life expectancy of people in nursing homes made in advance of the scheme were also wrong. This was put at two-and-a-half years when it was nearer to five years.

It recently emerged that more than 470 elderly people who have applied for financial support to pay nursing home fees are confined to hospital.

Irish Independent

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